WEST READING, Pa. — The number of Berks County bars and restaurants joining the John R. Elliott HERO campaign for designated drivers has exceeded 30 since the campaign — which aims to prevent driving-related deaths and injuries in drunk – arrived in the county in 2021.
“The more we collaborate with things like this, the stronger we become,” said Adam Cocuzza, owner of Nitro Bar in West Reading.
As part of the national initiative, venues are serving free soft drinks, mocktails and coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages to designated drivers.
“A lot of the bar industry in more metropolitan areas is starting to really embrace the no-cocktail or mocktail lifestyle,” Cocuzza said.
The HERO campaign was created in memory of John R. Elliott, who died in 2000 after a crash with a drunk driver just months after graduating from the US Naval Academy.
Paige Carroll, Council on Chemical Abuse Prevention Specialist, helps with the campaign in Berks County.
“We want people to have a good time, but come home safe,” Carroll said.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the number of fatalities in crashes involving impaired driving declined in 2021. It’s been a trend for 15 years now, but the state said the number still remains high.
Carroll is looking to add other establishments to the list of those already involved in the HERO campaign to make the roads safer for everyone.
“People recognize the program,” Carroll said. “They see the need for it, and now we really need individuals to take advantage of this incentive.”
Restaurants and bars interested in getting involved can visit the Council on Chemical Abuse website.